HomeVisitMuseum ExhibitsFact SheetsDisplay

The Story of the MiG-15bis on Display

Lt. No Kum-Sok in the flying clothing and equipment he wore on his flight to South Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Lt. No Kum-Sok in the flying clothing and equipment he wore on his flight to South Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The MiG-15b is secured in a hangar at Kimpo Air Base. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The MiG-15b is secured in a hangar at Kimpo Air Base. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Repainted in USAF markings and insignia, the MiG-15bis under guard and awaiting flight-testing at Okinawa. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Repainted in USAF markings and insignia, the MiG-15bis under guard and awaiting flight-testing at Okinawa. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The MiG-15 had a unique system for mounting its three cannon on a section of the fuselage that could be lowered by four cables. This feature permitted rapid rearming and easier routine maintenance. The guns in this photo are on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The MiG-15 had a unique system for mounting its three cannon on a section of the fuselage that could be lowered by four cables. This feature permitted rapid rearming and easier routine maintenance. The guns in this photo are on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Taking off on its first USAF test flight in Okinawa, followed by an F-86. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Taking off on its first USAF test flight in Okinawa, followed by an F-86. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Lt. No Kum-Sok’s MiG-15bis next to an F-86 at Kimpo Air Base about five minutes after he had landed. This photo was taken without permission from the rear of a passing truck. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Lt. No Kum-Sok’s MiG-15bis next to an F-86 at Kimpo Air Base about five minutes after he had landed. This photo was taken without permission from the rear of a passing truck. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Front and back side copy of the leaflet offering a $100,000 reward to any pilot who delivered a MiG. This leaflet was dropped on MiG bases in the closing months of the Korean War. Lt. No Kum-Sok had not seen one of these before he escaped and did not know he would be rewarded. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Front and back side copy of the leaflet offering a $100,000 reward to any pilot who delivered a MiG. This leaflet was dropped on MiG bases in the closing months of the Korean War. Lt. No Kum-Sok had not seen one of these before he escaped and did not know he would be rewarded. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Front and back side copy of the leaflet offering a $100,000 reward to any pilot who delivered a MiG. This leaflet was dropped on MiG bases in the closing months of the Korean War. Lt. No Kum-Sok had not seen one of these before he escaped and did not know he would be rewarded. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Front and back side copy of the leaflet offering a $100,000 reward to any pilot who delivered a MiG. This leaflet was dropped on MiG bases in the closing months of the Korean War. Lt. No Kum-Sok had not seen one of these before he escaped and did not know he would be rewarded. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Copies of the memorandum that created the MiG reward leaflet. This memorandum explains why it was made and gives the English translation. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Copies of the memorandum that created the MiG reward leaflet. This memorandum explains why it was made and gives the English translation. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Copies of the memorandum that created the MiG reward leaflet. This memorandum explains why it was made and gives the English translation. (U.S. Air Force photo)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 10 of 12

Copies of the memorandum that created the MiG reward leaflet. This memorandum explains why it was made and gives the English translation. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Copies of the memorandum that created the MiG reward leaflet. This memorandum explains why it was made and gives the English translation. (U.S. Air Force photo)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 11 of 12

Copies of the memorandum that created the MiG reward leaflet. This memorandum explains why it was made and gives the English translation. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Lt. No Kum-Sok. (U.S. Air Force photo)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 12 of 12

Lt. No Kum-Sok. (U.S. Air Force photo)

In November 1950, the communists introduced the Soviet-built MiG-15 into battle. Its advanced design and exceptional performance startled United Nations forces. The U.S. hoped one of the planes could be acquired for technical analysis and flight evaluation. However, MiG-15 pilots were very careful not to fly over UN territory where they might be forced down.

In April 1953 the U.S. Far East Command made an offer of $100,000 for the first MiG-15 delivered intact. No enemy pilot took advantage of this offer, and when the Korean truce went into effect on July 27, 1953, the U.S. still had not acquired a MiG-15 for flight-testing.

On Sept. 21, 1953, a MiG-15bis (a more advanced version of the original MiG-15) suddenly landed downwind at Kimpo Air Base near Seoul, South Korea, greatly surprising the personnel there. The plane was piloted by 21-year old Senior Lt. No Kum-Sok of the North Korean Air Force, who had long before decided to escape to South Korea.

Shortly after landing at Kimpo AB, the young pilot learned of the $100,000 reward. To his relief, he also found out his mother had been safely evacuated from North to South Korea in 1951 and that she was alive and well.

The MiG-15bis was taken to Okinawa where test pilot Capt. H.E. "Tom" Collins, first flew it. Collins and Maj. C.E. "Chuck" Yeager made subsequent test flights. The airplane was disassembled and airlifted to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in December 1953, where it was reassembled and exhaustively flight-tested. The U.S. then offered to return the MiG to its rightful owners but no country claimed the plane. It was transferred to the museum in 1957.

At his request, No and his mother came to the United States to lead full and free lives. He changed his name to Kenneth Rowe, married, became a U.S. citizen, and graduated from the University of Delaware. Interestingly, just below the gunsight on his MiG-15bis was the following admonition in red Korean characters: "Pour out and zero in this vindictive ammunition to the damn Yankees."

Click here to return to the Air Superiority Overview.

 

Find Out More
Line
Related Fact Sheets
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15bis
Line
Note: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the National Museum of the USAF, the U.S. Air Force, or the Department of Defense, of the external website, or the information, products or services contained therein.

Featured Links

Plan Your Visit
E-newsletter Sign-up
Explore Museum Exhibits
Browse Photos
Visit Press Room
Become a Volunteer
Air Force Museum Foundation